With an increasingly digital media sector characterised by a continuous flow of information, it is becoming difficult for marketing specialists to reach their target groups effectively. That is why it is important to not underestimate the potential of traditional technologies. We present to you the advantages of print as a medium for content marketing.
Over the course of the past decades, a huge change has shaped the use of media: the digital revolution and the move from an offline to an online world. Marketing specialists have followed this movement: while advertising spending for online media has not stopped growing, it has dropped for the print press sector. This development is hardly surprising, as target groups can be reached efficiently, precisely and directly in the digital realm. What does that mean for print as a medium for content marketing? Will print disappear completely, to be replaced by digital media?
Our digital gadgets are becoming more intelligent, more efficient and less expensive. For some communications experts, print will soon be no more than a relic of the “pre-pixel age”. Juan Senõr, President of Innovation Media Consulting, is convinced that the opposite is true: “With the arrival of new technologies, we like to invoke fables, including the one about the death of print.” The idea that one media can erase another is anything but true. While distribution technologies such as telegraphy or fax have become rare, they should not be confused with media. “In fact, print is a medium and is therefore not perishable”, adds Juan Senõr.
Print continues to play a central role in brand development, satisfaction and cementing loyalty among new clients. Below, you will find three characteristics that distinguish print from digital media and make it a precious channel for content marketing.
According to a study, Swiss citizens spent almost two hours a day on their mobile phones last year, without counting other types of screen. Since the pandemic, the time we spend on screens has increased further still. Because of this excessive use, many internet users suffer from what is known as “Screen Fatigue” and want to spend some time away from the computer.
That is exactly what physically available print content can offer: a sensory experience rooted in sight, touch and smell. This stimulation of the senses, for example, when leafing through a block of paper, appeals to the emotions of the reader. In a highly digital world, print products stand out because of their material quality. Studies show that by stimulating the senses using printed marketing content, brands and their messages leave more of an impression than digital content.
The fact that digital media offer unlimited access to information does not only come with positives, according to Javier Serrano-Puche, a communication researcher and speaker. The massive flow of data has a negative effect on users’ ability to process and absorb messages in the digital sphere. Given that internet users already have a very limited attention span when browsing online, this presents enormous risks for marketeers. It is perfectly possible for very good marketing content to get lost in the flow of information and not reach its target.
However, print media offer an environment in which there are fewer distractions, which encourages consumers to concentrate and to read more closely. According to Norwegian education expert Anne Mangen, print encourages people to read the full text and to understand its context, while texts on screens are often skimmed by internet users who only remember certain words or parts of sentences. Marketing expert Joe Pulizzi believes in print media: “Print makes you think. Online, people are mostly looking for answers. Print is a very good way of reaching clients with stimulating content so they ask themselves the right questions.” From this perspective, brand messages land better with consumers of print media. According to a study by Jones, Pentecost et Requena, consumers of print media are also better able to remember printed content that they have previously read.
Content marketing aims mainly to cement a long-term relationship with the client. To do so, it is essential to establish a relationship of trust. Beyond the credibility of the editor, the type of media also determines if the marketing content is seen as trustworthy by consumers. A MediaCom study shows that seven people out of ten trust print magazines more than social media. The MACH Consumer 2016 study also shows that specialist reviews, newspapers and magazines are seen as more credible sources when it comes to advertising.
Format is, once again, one of the factors that explains the high level of trust in the written press. Indeed, printed content – unlike most digital content – is definitive and cannot be subsequently modified. In this way, readers tend to think that printed content is based on in-depth research carried out by experts and is therefore reliable. Indeed, print content has acquired a certain degree of credibility and of respect over the centuries, which has enhanced its reputation as a source of reliable information.
Anna Sampson, one of the contributors to the MediaCom study, noted that this perception of print resulted in a positive “Brand Rub” effect on brands advertising in print. She quotes five case studies where participants’ trust in a brand went from 64 to 94% after the use of magazines.
While digital media have revolutionized the way content is consumed, they have certainly not replaced print media. Rather, they have repositioned print. Today, print represents a change from screens, an invitation to read more carefully and to spend more time with the text.
It is now clear that marketing specialists must not give up on print. Nevertheless, in the digital age, print alone is not enough, in most cases, to reach the desired target groups. Rather, a judicious mix of several types of media is recommended. There is no one answer to the question of knowing which channels content should be distributed on, as that depends on several factors such as audience, objective and content format. However, one thing is clear: digital and print media should not be considered and used as substitutes but rather as complementary. This way, their specific advantages can be used effectively to convince the target group at the right time and the right place.